Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why did the Washington Monument shrink 10 inches?” you ask? Good question. Timely too. (Mind you, if not for the Google “gods”, we’d have something really clever to say regarding the cold, “shrinkage” and “10 inches” but alas we like our jobs here at ALW. Besides, it’s the Washington Monument and Washington was the father of a whole country so how much could we possibly mock the man, right?)
According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Washington Monument is currently 10 inches shorter than when it was built back in 1884. The NOAA announced Monday that their new technology reveals that the monument is now 554 feet 7 and 11/32 inches high. In 1884 though, it measured in at 555 feet 5? inches.
So why did the Washington Monument shrink? The NOAA believes that the most likely reason is simply because it was measured differently each time. Sources such as Justin Worland, contributor to TIME’s website confirm that today engineers use international standards and they measure from the “lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance” up to the peak of the monument. Worland says: “It’s unclear what standard engineers used when the monument was first built.”
Dru Smith, a NOAA scientist, stated: “We have to be cautious in comparing this new height to the historic one, since we do not know precisely the actual starting point that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lt. Col. Thomas Casey used in 1884. Today’s elevation reflects the international standards for measurement of a building’s height as well as considerable technological improvements.”
According to a source at the Washington Post there is probably a three-eighths of an inch change in height that is not due to the above-mentioned difference in measurement standards. That loss in height Worland also believes is probably the result of “wear and tear to the monument’s cap.”
Why did the Washington Monument shrink 10 inches? Now you know.
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